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Computer Networking Cables – Types and Usage FAQ


Many kinds of network cables are used for establishing different computer networks. These cables are used as per the diverse requirements of various kinds of computer network. Before setting up a network, you must learn about the varieties of networking cables.

For setting up a computer network, you need to understand several basic terms. Using switches, hubs and cables in a computer network is common but to gain maximum efficiency, the right kind of devices and cables are required. The cables are different from one another in terms of speed for transmission of data, reduction of crosstalk and modes of installation. Find answers to your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about different kinds of networking cables and their uses.

Q. What is an unshielded network cable?

A. Unshielded Twisted Pair cables are widely used with the Ethernet networks. The twisted wire pairs in the cable, as suggested by the name, are not shielded. Eight individual copper wires (22 or 24 gauge) are twisted to make four pairs that restrict the signal corruption due to electromagnetic interference. UTP cables must adhere to the specifications regulating the number of twists that are permitted in defined length. A relatively smaller diameter of this cable is beneficial during installation. The speed and throughput of this cable is 10 to 1000 Mbps and is the most cost effective networking cable. This cable is extremely popular because it can be effectively used with most of the major networking infrastructure.

Q. What is a shielded network cable?

A. In the Shielded Twisted Pair cables, a metallic foil is used for wrapping each pair of copper wire which are then blanketed altogether in a metallic braid. STP not only reduces the outside disturbance like the EMI and RFI radiations but also the electrical noises in the cables like crosstalk and pair-to-pair to coupling. It is generally installed with the STP data connector but can also use RJ connector base. Unlike UTP, number of twisted pairs in this cable are only two and are comparatively more difficult to install. When installing, you must ensure that the metallic shield on both the ends is properly grounded.

Q. When do I need a shielded cable and which type do I need?

A. The main use of shielded cable is to strengthen the signal transmission via the cable and protect it from disturbances like crosstalk, Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference. This interference usually occurs when there are any kinks or crimps from the neighbouring structures. These cause the transmission of data to slowdown. Common sources causing the disturbances are large motors and generators, radio towers and high-voltage lighting fixtures.

Q. What is a crossover cable?

A. A crossover cable, also known as cross wired cable, is a network cable that is used for the connection of two network devices without the need of any hub or switch. These cables are terminated distinctively on one of its ends with pairs switched green and orange. This cable also enables you to directly access the hardware on the same network.

Q. What is a solid cable?

A. Within the jacket of a solid cable, also known as one strand cable, there’s only one solid piece of copper wire. Solid cables give mechanical ruggedness and because it’s a single conductor, this cable can be used for structured wiring inside a building. In an insulation displacement connector, it’s easier to place solid cables.

Q. What is a stranded cable?

A. A stranded cable consists of numerous thin copper wires bundled within a jacket. Each one of these thin strands within the cable can be bent and flexed conveniently. Owing to their flexibility, these cables are mainly to make patch cables that can easily be plugged, unplugged and installed. Even if the stranded cables are twisted frequently, these neither corrupt nor affect the signal strength.

Q. Which type do I need, solid or stranded?

A. Though both the cables, solid and stranded have the same signal strengths, stranded cables are considered better for short lengths due to their flexibility. On the other hand, solid cables are much better for long cable runs.

Q. What is the maximum length?

A. The maximum recommended length for networking cables is 330ft (100m) which is based upon the solid cable as it’s the preferred choice for maximum length. Always make it a point to use repeaters at the length of patch cables. The distance between two of the patch cords should be 30ft (8m). another thing you have to pay heed to is the bending of the cables. Since these are rated with the least bending capacities, the signals are slowed down in case of a severe bending.

Q. What is RJ45?

A. Just like the lines on the road control the traffic, connectors, at the end of cables, line up the wires in physical locations inside themselves. In network installation, RJ45 connectors are used specifically for connecting the Ethernet devices.


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